If I say shooting school, what does it bring to mind? To me it’s guns. But at The Roxburghe Shooting school you are likely to be shooting arrows, bullets, tomahawks and maybe even hitting balls.

The Roxburghe Shooting School sits within the grounds of the Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, in the Scottish Borders less than four miles south of the market town of Kelso. It occupies a peaceful location set within 500 acres of wooded parkland, beside the River Teviot.

In 2016, Tracy Ferguson moved to Scotland to run the Roxburghe Shooting School of Excellence, she is the senior shooting coach, and runs professional clay & game shooting tuition and a range of target based activities and corporate events including archery, tomahawk throwing, air rifles, clay pigeon shooting, fly fishing and golf. She offers a range of customisable packages for children and adults, family and group activities, wedding parties and team building. Tracy and husband Stuart (they married on Seilibost beach, Isle of Harris in May this year) also offer Roe deer stalking on various estates across the borders.

Turning off the main road, the winding drive through mature parkland takes you up to the country house hotel. Tracy is introducing a family group of four to Tomahawk throwing on the front lawn of the hotel, there’s lots of fun and laughter as she guides them through the introduction, talking about safety, feet positioning and posture, hold and follow through.

Each family member is provided with three axes and a target. The axe is thrown in an overhand way making it rotate so the sharp metal edge of the axe is embedded in the target, and like archery, the closest to the bullseye wins the most points. My only experience of axes was using them to chop wood so it is fascinating to see them being used for throwing. Axes have been around for more than a million and a half years but the concept of throwing axes started around the 5th century, and by the middle ages, a throwing axe was a weapon used by foot soldiers, and occasionally, by knights.

Within the first few minutes, everyone had successfully thrown their axe at the target. It looked incredible to see mum, dad, son, and daughter throwing axes safely and accurately, what great fun! With Tracy’s encouragement and support, everyone’s confidence grew and Mum, Kay, threw with such gusto, she successfully landed three axes on the target. Tracy said: “To know I can make a difference to someone’s day is so rewarding, and watching them achieve something they thought they never could is an absolute joy.”

The group were introduced to a range of different axes from small steel angels, that Tracy calls Ninja stars, to the large Norse Hawks. They all mastered the art of throwing two at once. It’s an impressive sight to watch axes fly through the air and land on the targets. There are also benefits: a great outdoor activity for everyone, it’s a new skill and you’ll never be stuck for a dinner party topic!

After the family left and headed into Kelso, Tracy gave a clay shooting lesson to Architect Peter Bowman. We walked down to the shooting school, where Tracy guided Peter through a safety briefing, then checked his eye dominance, gunfit and fitted him with shooting glasses and ear defenders. Tracy closely observed Peter shooting then worked with him to get him consistently hitting each target. He said: “Having a reintroduction lesson to clay shooting with Tracy was a great success. This was the first time I had experienced a female instructor and I must say it worked. An easy light hearted beginning to the lesson gradually developed into a disciplined approach to identifying my specific issues and it worked within half a dozen attempts. Suddenly, my analytical mind had given way to the more instinctive, thinking as one with the gun approach, that Tracy had quickly honed in upon. I would have no hesitation in returning to Tracy and the really impressive set up and location she has created.”

Tracy’s journey into shooting started 18 years ago in Norfolk on a girls’ fun clay pigeon shoot, soon afterwards she bought a shotgun, shot clays, and entered competitions. She qualified as a CPSA (Clay Pigeon Shooting Association) Instructor and launched ‘Frock, Stock and Barrel’.

Before the hen weekend in Norfolk, Tracy had never lifted a shotgun, “The instructor gave me, what felt like, a tonne weight in my shoulder, I could barely lift the thing. I did hit a few unlike my pals, who were all put off, but something about the experience got to me.”

Curious to find out more, she visited her local gun shop, and was invited to their Sunday shoot and booked a lesson with their instructor, she said, “With a well fitted 20 bore, I practically hit every target he presented to me, suffice to say I was addicted.” Tracy joined her local club, applied for her shotgun certificate, and bought her first shotgun. For the first few months she shot and won most of the ladies’ competitions, “Our club was entered in the Essex clubs championship and I came second in the ladies entry having only shot for six months.”

An instructor noticed Tracy loved helping others to try shooting, and suggested she take the CPSA Instructors course. She took time out and changed the direction of her life, left her job in central London and in 2005, she started the Frock Stock and Barrel Clay Pigeon Shooting School.

Inundated with people wanting to try shooting, she created themed shooting events like ladies’ days, ‘have a go’ sessions, Valentines and Mothers days. Tracy was one of the CPSA tutors and assessment team asked by the British Army to assist in coaching in the army development team and joined them in Cyprus for two seasons.

Tracy runs Ladies events every quarter, these events are hugely popular with all ladies, from complete beginners to experienced shots. Tracy has been organising events since 2005, and appreciates what makes a great day out for the girls: great sponsors, shooting tuition, competitions, fun prizegiving followed by lunch or afternoon tea all served up with lots of fun and laughter.